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Franklin Templeton begins reaching out to investors for refunds

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MUMBAI: Franklin Templeton India has started contacting its 300,000 investors whose money is stuck in the six shuttered debt schemes. This comes after rap from Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) last week, when the markets regulator had asked the company to focus on refunding investors.

Sebi was miffed over Franklin Templeton global president Jennifer M Johnson’s statement on regulatory guidelines being one of the reasons behind shutting down its six debt funds in India. This led to Sebi issuing a statement on 7 May (Thursday), saying the fund house should focus on refunding investors and that some funds had chosen to have high concentration risk.

Franklin Templeton then issued a public apology to the regulator on Friday and reached out to the investors over the weekend.

The fund house has written to investors seeking details such as PAN, folio numbers, e-mail ids, said investors who spoke to Mint.

“The AMC will begin the crucial e-voting process later this week for investor consent to begin the winding down process,” said a person familiar with the matter.

These schemes under regulation 41 of mutual fund norms are undergoing the winding down process. So far, the asset management company (AMC) has completed only one aspect of the shutting down process, which is having the approval of trustees.

“The e-voting process would require investors to vote and authorise trustees to wind down the schemes. After that the AMC can begin refunding investors. The e-mail ids are being sought in cases where only phone details are available,” said this person quoted above.

A spokesperson from Franklin Templeton was not immediately available for comments.

According to Franklin Templeton’s communication dated 29 April, the quickest refunds will be in ultra short term funds, where 9% will be refunded within three months of authorisation, 39% in the next six months, about 50% in one year and 81% within two years. For investors in Franklin India Income Opportunities Fund, the wait could be five years.

Though the AMC has begun the process of winding down, some investors have already written to the AMC objecting the decision.

One such representation sent to Franklin Templeton and Sebi has been reviewed by Mint.

“This is only being used as a ruse to camouflage and divert investors and regulators attention from its reckless investment decisions, below-par, poor fund management by the AMC and their respective fund managers,” said an investor in the representation. He is invested in the ultra short-term fund.

“Failure of trustees to diligently carry out their duties, timely, as laid down under the Sebi Mutual Funds Regulations and Indian Trust Act and; to escape their- (sponsor, mutual fund, AMC and fund managers) legal obligation to return money to investors,” the investor added.

A spokesperson of Franklin Templeton had earlier told Mint that lack of positive outcome in the voting could delay the process of liquidating the assets of the scheme and paying the unitholders.


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